Friday, 12 August 2016

Red Hemp-nettle and another mass flowering

I don't need an excuse to return to Langley Vale Farm, home to a fine array of arable plant rarities. Compared to last year, my visits in 2016 have been not as frequent. Some field margins have been specifically spared the planting of crops to hopefully benefit the plants and, to a certain extent, this has delivered. This morning I luckily bumped into local botanist Dennis Skinner. He kindly informed me that Red Hemp-nettle, a species discovered here two summers ago, was showing once again. I know this plant from the shingle beaches of Dungeness and Rye, but not from arable Surrey - it is not common anywhere, and certainly not in my home county. I needed no encouragement to go and look for the three plants reported as being present. I found them easily...

Apart from Small Toadflax and Sharp-leaved Fluellen, there was no representation from the other rare arable plants present. I did come across a few strikingly pale-pink Scarlet Pimpernel flowers. These didn't appear to be 'washed-out' or faded individuals, as the photograph below shows fresh petals.

In some ways the botanical highlight of the morning was once again down to a common species en-masse, this time a 100m long bank of Perennial Sow-thistle. In the harsh sunlight the yellows from the flower heads and the white from the seed heads were vivid and created another vision of wonder for the memory bank.

It wasn't a morning totally bereft of birds, as a single Woodlark flew over, calling as it circled.


Derek Faulkner said...

Great photos of Sow Thistle, showing how ordinary and common flowers can be just as spectacular as the rarer and flashier types.

Steve Gale said...

Thanks Derek. I used a macro lens for these, which produced a more 'arty' feel. Pretentious, moi?